Stuart Bingham faces his toughest test yet in his bid to become the third qualifier to be crowned World Champion when he meets Mark Selby in the Semi-Finals.
The 2015 World Champion is back in the last four of the sport’s blue-riband event for the first time since lifting the trophy six years ago.
Should he go on to do the same this year, he would become the third qualifier – after Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005 – to triumph at The Crucible.
Bingham has certainly earned the right to return to the one-table set-up in Sheffield.
A 13-6 win over Jamie Jones in round two was sandwiched by deciding-frame victories against Ding Junhui and Anthony McGill – making a timely century in both.
‘Ballrun’ recovered from 10-7 down to lead 12-10 in his epic quarter-final with McGill.
And although the Scotsman pegged him back to 12-12, the 44-year-old demonstrated tremendous bottle in the decider with a break of 125 – his 10th century – to scrape over the line.
Bingham was a 2-0 winner over Selby in the inaugural Pro Series last month, but this will be the first meeting between the players over a longer distance.
The most frames they have previously contested is a best-of-17 at this stage of the 2016 International Championship semi-finals, which Selby won 9-3.
The Jester is back in familiar territory; this is his seventh Crucible semi-final – and second in succession – while he has triumphed in four of the previous six.
The three-time World champion, who was edged out 17-16 by Ronnie O’Sullivan last year, comprehensively swept Mark Williams aside with a session to spare in his quarter-final, running out a commanding 13-3 winner.
Selby has dropped just 11 frames en route to the semi-finals; a record he shares with Steve Davis (1989), Matthew Stevens (2001) and Williams (2003).
And the 37-year-old will be desperate to continue in a similar vein as he looks to move level with John Higgins on four World titles.
This eagerly anticipated encounter will be contested over four sessions; the first of which commences at 1pm BST on Thursday.
They will resume at 10am and 7pm on Friday, before playing to a close from 2.30pm the following day with the winner setting up a showdown with Kyren Wilson or Shaun Murphy in Sunday’s final.
The match will be available to watch live on desktop, mobile or tablet devices in the UK and various other regions worldwide.
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